ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Champions Trophy: Five questions for Australia's squad
David Hussey looks ahead to Australia's squad announcement for the Champions Trophy
19 April 2017, 12:53 PM AEST
Australia's preparations for the 2016 Champions Trophy in June will ramp up on Thursday with the announcement of their 15-man squad for the tournament.
The quadrennial eight-team event will be played in the UK between June 1 and 18, where Australia will be grouped with hosts England as well as Bangladesh and New Zealand in Group A, while defending champions India are pooled with South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Group B.
With some help from former Australia batsman David Hussey, a member of Australia's 2009 title-winning squad, we've looked at the five big questions for Australia's selectors ahead of the squad announcement.
Who should open with David Warner?
Australia tried no less than five opening batsmen in ODI cricket last summer and while David Warner is a lock, his opening partner remains a mystery. Long-time ally Aaron Finch was dropped in January before returning for the tour of New Zealand, while Travis Head, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh were also tried at the top of the order.
David Hussey says: "You're probably looking at a player who's had a bit of experience in county cricket. The opening partnership for the last World Cup was Finch and Warner so I'd probably go back to those two. Finch has had good experience playing for Yorkshire and Surrey in the county championship and he's had good success playing in English conditions."
Is Chris Lynn worth the risk?
The Queenslander has just one ODI to his name but there's absolutely no doubting his match-winning ability. A string of serious injuries has restricted him to just 11 50-over matches since the 2013 domestic final and he's currently sidelined with another shoulder problem. But he's confident of a return to full fitness in the Indian Premier League next month and with Australia's middle order far from settled, he's a tempting option.
David Hussey says: "I think he is (worth a gamble) and he's a good player of fast bowling. He likes the ball coming on to the bat and they'll be thinking they'll be playing a lot of seamers being the early season in England. So he's definitely worth a gamble and a spot in the squad at least. If he comes off, the Australians could well hold the trophy up."
Does Adam Zampa have a role to play?
Despite establishing himself as Australia's No.1 frontline spinner in white-ball cricket, Zampa played just played four of 10 ODIs last summer as Australia relied on their star pace attack and the off-spin of allrounder Travis Head. The early season English conditions that are expected to favour the fast men could also work against the leggie, as will the shorter boundaries at Edgbaston and The Oval for Australia's group games.
David Hussey says: "(Spin might not play a big role) early in the tournament, but it probably will later on once the wickets start getting a bit used. I'm a big believer in needing two spinners in all limited-overs cricket. I think spin is very underrated and underused. I think Zampa is the premier spinner in limited overs cricket in Australia and I think he should be the first spinner picked. He takes wickets, he controls the run rate (and) if you look at all the stats around the world, leg-spinners traditionally perform. He always performs on the big stage and it'll be no different for Australia in this tournament too."
Is Mitchell Starc worth the risk?
Probably the biggest question mark surrounding Australia's squad announcement in Thursday is whether or not their star fast bowler will be fit. Having been sent home from the tour of India with a foot injury, the left-armer had been confident of returning to full fitness in time for Australia's tournament opener on June 2. But with an Ashes series fast approaching, Cricket Australia will be reluctant to push Starc too far, too soon.
David Hussey says: "Absolutely. I want him to play and I want to see him, Pattinson, Hazlewood and Cummins all playing. I think that'd be fantastic. I desperately want to see Mitchell Starc playing."
Should the 'big four' quicks all be picked?
The Ashes are still seven months away but already the prospect of Australia fielding their 'big four' quicks in the same XI has Aussie fans salivating. While Starc is on the comeback trail from injury, Hazlewood is a workhorse and the speedsters Cummins and Pattinson are enjoying their best run of fitness and form for years. But James Faulkner and John Hastings also have strong cases to be picked, while spinner Zampa would offer some variety to the attack.
David Hussey says: "That'd be pretty much the most exciting fast-bowling quartet you could see in international cricket. I hope they all get picked in the squad, and maybe the back-up could be someone like John Hastings or James Faulkner. It'll be a difficult team to pick but I'd definitely like to see all four quicks play in the one team at some stage."
Ashes ticket sales key dates
April 23: Cut-off date to join the ACF
May 1: Tickets on sale to ACF Gold members
May 3: Tickets on sale to all ACF members
May 8: Tickets on sale to the general public
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Men's Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night)
Third Test Perth TBC, December 14-18
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test)
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14
Second ODI Gabba, January 19
Third ODI SCG, January 21
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21